Is your jewellery looking a bit dull? Or maybe you’ve noticed a bit of green gunk in the latch? Read on to find out how to safely clean your gold filled and sterling silver jewellery so it looks good as new.
I’ve been saying this ever since I started making, photographing and selling jewellery: ears are gross. There is a lot of yuck that builds up in and around the ear: sweat, oil, dead skin cells; and people don’t really clean their ears properly (guilty!) because they’re so hard to see. Even if you are thorough, those particles will find their home in the nooks and crannies of your earrings, which not only makes your sparkly jewellery dull, but can also cause a bit of damage to the metal. So let’s get cleaning!
Cleaning Gold Filled and Sterling Silver Jewellery
Is it dirty or tarnished?
Well-loved gold-filled jewellery could be both! While the thick layer of gold will last much longer than plated pieces, the harsh reality is that it will never be as durable as solid gold and needs a little extra TLC. So if you’re looking at dark marks on a piece you’ve gotten a lot of wear out of (in and out of water) over the years, there’s a good chance it’s ready to be replaced.
However, if it’s just looking a bit dull and has some weird green stuff (it’s called ‘Verdigris’!) growing in the hinge, then a good clean will bring it back to life.
Easy does it
Start off with a gentle dish soap in a bowl of lukewarm water. I use Earth Choice (the green tea and lime scent makes washing dishes almost fun). Make sure it gets a bit sudsy and pop your pieces in for a quick soak. Use a soft toothbrush to lightly remove any built-up grime and oil from your skin.
Rinse thoroughly (make sure you put the plug in the sink in case anything slips out of your hands!) and let it dry on a soft towel.
Verdigris (aka ‘that green gunk’)
If you’ve noticed a bit of green gunk on your gold filled (not sterling silver!) jewellery, this is normal (albeit a bit yuck). It’s called ‘Verdigris’ and it’s from the copper in your jewellery oxidising. The base metal in gold filled jewellery is copper, and in some small instances it may be exposed if the top layer of gold wears off. This can happen in hinges as there is so much friction when you open and close the latch.
When copper is exposed to damp and oxygen, a chemical reaction occurs that creates Verdigris. It isn’t toxic, but it can erode your jewellery and should be removed as soon as possible.
If the gentle soak and toothbrush hasn’t shifted it, grab a toothpick to remove any build up in hard to reach places. You can also use white vinegar to help it lift: soak your jewellery for 10-15 minutes and then repeat the gentle clean with dish washing liquid.
Make sure your jewellery is clean and dry before storing it after use, and pack it away somewhere safe like your jewellery box or in a pouch. Orders over $100 qualify for a free Maison de Femmes pouch (subject to availability). Another hot tip: hold onto the silica packets you come across in shoeboxes and store them with your jewellery to absorb any moisture.